Iris hartwegii

Sierra Iris


The Basics

Taxonomy: Kingdom - Plantae (plants). Subkingdom - Tracheobionta (vascular plants). Superdivision - Spermatophyta (seed plants). Division - Magnoliophyta (Flowering plants). Class - Liliopsida. Order - Liliales. Family - Iridaceae (Iris family). Genus -Iris L. Species - Iris hartwegii Baker.

Ecology: The Sierra Iris' distinct elevational and geographic range separates it from all the other Pacifica iris except the long floral tube species Iris tenuissima in the northern Sierra Nevada Mountains and Iris macrosiphon along the Sierras' lower elevation western foothills. Grows between 600 meters to 2,100 meters elevation. Primarily endemic to California. Grows shady areas of moist, humus- rich soil. Hybridizes readily with I. macrosiphon.


General: Floral tube stout and short (less than 2 cm). Spathes attached at separate locations on the stem, spreading, leaving overy exposed. Plants individual - "clumps" are actually many single plants grown up where generations of seeds fell.Flower color: Usually light cream to bright yellow with a darker yellow center spot; sometimes maroon or lavender, often with darker veins, especially in the southern Sierra Nevadas south of Yosemite Valley. The flower stem in slender, > 0.3 meters. tall, and bears 1-2 flowers.

Animal use

Iris hartwegii is used by butterflies and moths. The most likely one to use Iris hartwegii is the Red Swordgrass moth.


Iris hartwegii is a perennial herb that requires rhizomes to grow. These rhizomes allow the species to grow is clumps and the seeds that are released from the plant also form the clumps. The flowers bloom during May through June.

Species Distribution


Calflora Plants Database
Information on California plants for education, research and conservation, with data contributed by public and private institutions and individuals, including the Consortium of California Herbaria. [web application]. 2017. Berkeley, California: The Calflora Database [a non-profit organization].

USDA Plants Database
USDA, NRCS. 2017. The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.
Distribution Map photo credit

University of Texas, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
2007 TWC staff Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Flora of North America
Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 19+ vols. New York and Oxford.

Society of Pacific Coast Native Iris
2000-2017. Iris hartwegii [Online]. Society of Pacific Coast Native Iris.

A Survey of the North American Species of IRIS
Foster, R. C. (1937). A cyto-taxonomic survey of the North American species of Iris. Contributions from the Gray Herbarium of Harvard University, 1-82.

Calscape. (n.d.). Hartweg’s Iris. Retrieved from California Native Plant Society:'s-Iris)?srchcr=sc605a700e56252

Cal Photos
Photo credit: 1991 Gary A. Monroe, 1995 Saint Mary's College of California.